Merry Christmas!

OK, I’m coming out of hiding to greet my readers a Merry Christmas. Things have been crazy and I haven’t been trippin’ as much as I should have been. Still, no excuse for not writing about things I promised. I hope that the christmas rush won’t prevent me writing at least a little something before the New Year strikes.

Merry Christmas, everyone! God bless you. 🙂

Travelscapes by Raymond Lauchengco

My friend and former schoolmate Mia Rocha-Lauchengco just sent me an invite to her husband’s exhibit of photographs taken during his travels.

I would have loved to be at the reception, but I have work on Tuesday evenings. I’m still planning to take a look at that exhibit should I be in the Makati area during its run. My sister took photography lessons from Raymond while she was in high school, so it should be an interesting way to spend an hour or so.

From the press release:

Raymond Lauchengco delved seriously into photography in the 1980’s and pursued it professionally in 1999. He has participated in various group exhibitions and had his first solo exhibition at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel in 2000. He has since undertaken various private and corporate commissions, creating portraits, product shots, and fashion editorials, as well as dedicating his efforts to his own creative vision as seen in “Travelscapes.”

When asked about what led him to pursuing photography, Lauchengco simply answers, “Light.”

All Saints’ Weekend in Boracay

Every time I head to Boracay, it’s always different. The first time, summer had just begun. The second time, summer was about to end. The third time, it was the New Year. The fourth time, it was midsummer. And the fifth time, it was one of the biggest party weekends on the calendar: All Saints’ Weekend.

Our friends Francis and Trondz had just opened a boutique hotel near D*Mall on the island’s main road. Island Nook has beautiful white walls and floors, large glass windows from which you could look out onto the island’s interior, and super comfy beds.

We five girls were able to fit onto two queen-size beds during our four-day stay (October 30 to November 2). That was plenty of time to do what we always do on the island — laze around under the sun, loll about on the sand, stroll on the beachfront, swim in the sea, and kayak out to deeper water.

Fun in the sun on our second day

But we were also there to experience the chance to get dressed in crazy costumes, applaud creative ones, and dance all through the night and sleep in all day. I had brought a pink wig just because, and eventually we decided I was dressed as a contestant to Miss Gay Philippines (LOL!). Other less wild costume ideas were the tiaras the other girls had brought.

Two of them had matching wands, which were stolen by Francis and Trondz.

I know I said I wouldn’t post this… or did I?

 This was only the second time that Francis, Trondz, Joel, Marielle and I had been reunited on Boracay. The first time was during our first trip to Boracay, when Trondz had introduced himself to us on the beach, and then invited his two friends over. I can’t believe it’s only been three years — it feels like much longer than that!

Lots of things have changed since then: Trondz now has a steady girlfriend (he had just gone through a major break-up when we first met him), Joel, my sister, and I now attend the same church (he was a bad boy back then! haha), and Francis has now taken up residence in Boracay most of the year to help grow their hotel and laundry business (he used to be firmly a Manila boy).

My favorite part of the night was chasing down a group of people dressed as Cruella DeVil and the 101 Dalmatians, getting a photo taken with them, and then realizing I was dressed in their color scheme.

I’m the 102nd dalmatian.

Every night during our stay in Boracay it would rain, and on the 31st of October it rained so much that I was glad I was wearing a bikini (anything else would have been a disaster!).

Rain shower. Literally.

It was definitely a night of fun, laughter, and good memories (some of which we’ll have to keep to ourselves for fear of embarrassment!). At some point, we made a pact to keep coming back to the island paradise on the same weekend every year.

I hope we get to keep that pact.

 

Wakeboarding at Lago de Oro

My friend Jace has recently added wakeboarding to his list of favorite things to do, so for his birthday he drove a bunch of us out to Lago de Oro Beach Resort in Calatagan, Batangas to try it out. Jace has been there a few times already, and on that day he wanted to conquer the “kicker” — one of several ramps on the course.

 

Jace waiting for a towline

I thought it’d be at a beach, in the water among the waves. When I got there, though, I found out it was a converted fish pond. The way wakeboarding works, with its pulleys and winches and structures, you really can’t set it up in the ocean with the waves and currents.

experienced wakeboarders

While Jace was practicing for conquering the kicker in the afternoon, it was all the rest of us could do to hang on for dear life on our kneeboards. We each strapped ourselves kneeling onto special beginner boards, then held on to a towline and allowed ourselves to be dragged around the course. I did pretty well, doing two rounds before I got too tired hanging onto the towline.

So I progressed to the real wakeboard.

Yes, that’s actually me wakeboarding. And wiping out.

Well I was only able to feel successful at it once, when I almost rounded the first corner (there are 4 on the course). The pull of the towline is pretty brutal, particularly around the corners as the pulley accelerates. It jerks strongly — so strongly that one of us who was strapped tightly onto her kneeboard got pulled off it.

We were pretty stoked about surviving.

I gave it several good tries (and lots of painful wipe outs) before I called it a day and just started playing with my zips. I’m better at zipping than at wakeboarding — and I hit myself a lot zipping.

zippity do dah, zippity dey…

Some of us were able to progress quite well, so learning to wakeboard is doable for first-timers. Just be prepared to wipe out a lot.

We spent the whole day there, and left after the sun went down.

sunset at Lago de Oro

Wakeboarding at Lago de Oro is priced at 900 pesos for a half-day, and 1,500 pesos for a whole day. It was a fun experience, once I got past the fear of being pulled along by a rope. Surfing is way gentler.

Some Admin Stuff

Hi there!

If you’re one of the subscribers to my feed from my blog In My Pocket, you might have noticed my website and feed’s been down for about three weeks. I’m having problems with my domain name (noelledeguzman.com) but I’m hoping it gets settled within the month. Meanwhile, I’ve redirected my feed to my travel blog, which you’re now reading. If you’re looking for some fresh stuff I’ve written, check out my article about Quezon.

If you’re one of the regular readers of this travel blog, no, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth. I’ve been busy with non-travel stuff but I have been someplace just recently. Even though I didn’t win the PBA Best Travel Blog award, that doesn’t mean I want to stop writing about travel. Hang on, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride!

When Hope Starts to Fail

… God’s Word exhorts and strengthens.

Early this year as I faced a personal crisis in self-confidence and faith in God, I was challenged by a pastor’s message during our weekend services at VCF Galleria to pray for something that seems impossible. From personal conviction that God is greater than I can ever imagine, I decided to do so.

A few months later, I am praying for three breakthroughs: in my career, in my family’s finances, and in someone’s salvation. Of these, two have started to come to pass, but one in particular seems really impossible, and I was losing heart.

Then, last Tuesday, my Bible reading took me to several verses and passages that recalled so many more in my mind. When I looked them up, surprisingly I had already underlined them in my Bible in my past years of reading it and meditating on the Word. God’s Word is always there; we just have to cling to it at all times to renew our hope and strength in Him. I just want to share these with you, dear reader. (All quotations are from the New International Version.)

Mark 11:22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Mark 12:29-31 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear o Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Luke 21:13 “But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.”

John 15:26-27 “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.”

Isaiah 40:28-31 “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Romans 8:24-27 “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”

May these verses bless you as they have blessed me. My God is alive and real. Ü

Best Travel Blog Finalists at the 2008 Philippine Blog Awards

The finalists for the Best Travel Blog have been announced, and I’m really happy that Trippin’ is one of them! Still, I am up against some real heavyweights:

Egads! Carlos Celdran’s blog is in there too… How can I compete? Here’s what qualifies a blog for nomination under Best Travel Blog: “A blog that focuses on the different aspects traveling for an extend period of time from point A to B. It may be a narrative or even an advice post focused on a trip or destination.”

On the off-chance that I might win, I’ve asked Ade Magnaye of Noisy, Noisy Man and The Man Blog to accept on my behalf.

I’ll be back for more travel posts in a week. 

Mike Villar, Internet Star

Just recently I’ve been evaluating my links list and wonder why I have some people on there. Some are reciprocal links. Some are links to friends’ blogs. And some are just too funny not to be linked. I’m just happy that one of my reads is a nominee for Blogger’s Choice at the Philippine Blog Awards.

Yes, that’s Mike Villar, self-proclaimed Internet Star. Though the content of his blog isn’t safe for children, I do enjoy peering into the mind of a guy who details — nay, glories in — his failings. He shares this with the world at large and dares you to laugh at him.

Not only is he fearless when it comes to telling stories about himself (clearly some of those are embellished, right? RIGHT?), but early in his path to Internet stardom he came out with the series Atrocities of Friendster, which gave me side stitches from laughing too hard. You have to read it to understand why that took some big balls to publish.

So, I vote for Mikey, and you should, too. Let’s make this guy the Internet Star he claims to be.

Dancing My Heart Out Onstage

I started dancing on a stage two years ago, and I could very well say that Fitness First has been very instrumental in unleashing the performer in me. The first time was the Nike Rockstar Workout Bollywood Finals, where I competed alongside two other women and one NRSW instructor. I was just a Fitness First member then and had just auditioned (and didn’t pass) for BodyJam training.


Nike Rockstar Bollywood Final

A few months later there was a smaller NRSW competition; we had the same team minus one girl, and we danced a different routine. That was to be my last competition as a member; the next week I was set to do BodyBalance training and become a group exercise instructor.


Nike Rockstar Hiphop/Dancehall Showdown

The first big event I danced at for Fitness First was the BODYCOMBAT Main Event last October. Arnold Warren, our head teacher for BODYJAM in the Philippines, had a production number planned out using Jam instructors but they were short of one girl; hence I, who was only a BODYBALANCE instructor at the time, was recruited.


BODYJAM presentation at The Main Event

I’ve also danced at mall demos since then, and even more so since I became a Jam instructor.

But last Saturday was special; it was the first time I would perform for Fitness First in a Jam production number as a Jam instructor. It was part of Fitness First’s involvement in the QTV-11 Fit Fest. Aside from contributing judges for the hi-lo aerobics marathon, Fitness First was assigned an intermission number.


BODYJAM presentation at the QTV Fit Fest

Due to last-minute negotiations our team was only informed about what we had to do very late the previous night. We only had the 6 hours before the event started to put together our presentation — from setting choreography to music, to blocking and stunts. I thank God we were able to remain calm enough to pull together; we were so close to backing out, but Jammers are professionals, too!

I feel like I’ve come a long way since my first onstage performance; definitely, the butterflies in my stomach have disappeared. Instead they’ve been replaced by armpit sweating, but that’s more easily managed. Ü Here’s to more of the same! The Asian Momentum event is coming in November…

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